Golf is a balance between why we do the things we do on the course (and working to improve them), along with a healthy appreciation of being outdoors, enjoying one's environment, taking in the air and discovering a sense of self to compliment a sound swing.
Yes, I'm a big proponent of discovering the spirituality of the game.
The links, like life, are truly a continual journey of self-discovery.
To that effect, buoyed by the bounty of the Coachella Valley, here are five locales that I find particularly spiritual places for golf in the desert.
Hole No. 8 at Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY SHADOW RIDGE GOLF CLUB
The 8th at Shadow Ridge is a is a true mosaic of the desert palate.
Aptly-counted among the desert's most photographed holes, I just love the diversity of texture that appears when striding to the box of this 371-yard, par-4 hole. With wild, golden grasses before the tees, mid-fairway bunkering (now with even more color pop after the summer renovation) and the mountain backdrops, the double fairway-featured hole is a true mosaic of desert palate.
Indian Canyons South Course
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY INDIAN CANYONS GOLF RESORT
More than 800 palm trees line Indian Canyons South Course.
Of the approximately 850 palm trees lining the course, about 500 are of the Washingtonia filifera variety. Sacred to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the "California Fan Palms" (casually referred to as "bearded palms") are the only palm native to the state. The tree is of great importance to the tribe, as it served its ancestors for myriad reasons, including using the palm as a source for food, drink, clothing (specifically sandals), shelter, and as the nexus for gatherings. The next time you bang a ball into one of these babies (and don’t be surprised if it doesn't come out), just think about the history routing your round . . . before dropping for a penalty stroke.
16th hole at Mountain Course at La Quinta Resort & Club
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LA QUINTA RESORT & CLUB
Much of the Mountain’s back nine feels like it’s just you and the rocky surrounds.
Presenting one of the desert's most alluring, elevated views, the 167-yard, par-3 hole provides a stunning look at the valley below on a clear day.
Holes 10 and 11 at Desert Dunes Golf Club
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY DESERT DUNES GOLF CLUB
I dig the course’s wild and rustic feel.
A polarizing track because of its susceptibility to windy conditions, I've long considered this Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design a personal favorite. Unlike many of the residentially-lined courses in the valley, desert dunes feels rustic and wild, and gives a sensation of being alone with the landscape. My favorite spot is the tree-lined turn from the 10th green winding back along the short, 357-yard 11th. The area feels like a special little nook, and I've seen some wildlife there (including a massive Brown Owl) that made me put my club down and just admire the scenery.
College of the Desert Golf Center
If you can focus here, you can find oneness anywhere.
Most of you are saying, "What?" But, for me, the afore-noted feeling of "oneness" is the core of golf. At the valley's nexus of public activity – with its host of characters and knowledge and noise – I always feel that if I can concentrate here, I should be able to concentrate anywhere.